Day 6 part 9

"Pleased to meet you, won't you come in?" Agnes greeted Victoria at the door to Weatherton's office. Quickly Victoria raked the room with her eyes. There were fourteen vampires here, all dressed in black, all smiling in her direction. It looked like the vampiric version of a Secret Service convention. Her arms tightened around the folder she carried.

"Mmnn, thank you," Victoria replied as she slowly entered the room. This made her extremely uncomfortable. She felt a little like a lamb going to slaughter.

"Why don't you sit here?" Weatherton offered her a large leather chair nearest to his own. Victoria nodded and crossed the room, knowing that all eyes followed her every step. Why hadn't she told Lilith that she was uncomfortable in the presence of so many vampires? Pride, she decided. She had not wanted Sands' maker and former lover to think she was weak. But now surveying the situation, Lilith should have known how she felt.

"Well," Weatherton's voice broke into her thoughts. "I have briefed the Guardians on your mission with us." He smiled in a charming manner dropping his eyes to the file in her lap. "Did you find anything helpful in our notes?"

Victoria had indeed found his file helpful. According to the report, all the vampires turned seemed to be the young rebellious type; young adults who favored the Gothic scene and the few subjects the Guardians were able to capture had all come from the same section of London. The young vampires all related the same tale of being violently turned and left to fend for themselves.

The Guardians had discovered that a few of the young had banned together into a sort of loosely knit clan. This gave her a fairly good idea of where to begin her search for Abberline and Sands, whom she felt sure were now somehow involved. After all Sands owned a goth club in New York, he would be the perfect guide for Abberline into this strange world.

"Yes, it was very interesting," she let her natural accent flow. "Very good detective work. Have you gone to the West End to have a look around?" she asked politely.

Weatherton turned to Agnes. "Perhaps you could field Miss Dupree's question."

Agnes leaned against a nearby fireplace mantle. As Agnes began to speak, Victoria initiated her own detective work. Slowly she began to delve into Agnes' mind. There was no barrier and the talkative vampire seemed not to notice the intrusion. Victoria looked for images of Abberline or Sands. None were present. Keeping her eyes focused on the Guardian as she spoke, Victoria nodded occasionally to fain interest as she continued moving throughout the group. One by one she entered their minds, looking for clues, looking to see if any of them had seen Abberline or Sands recently. She was disappointed to find that they knew nothing.

After an unusually long pause, Victoria refocused her attention to Roderick Weatherton. "You said that you had used telepaths?" She saw Weatherton's brows arched. "Where are they? Would it be possible to speak to any of them? It could be helpful." As she smiled graciously, Victoria noticed several of the Guardians shift uncomfortably at her request. Weatherton motioned to Agnes and whispered into her ear. Agnes nodded.

"Will you be requiring any of our services this evening?" Agnes asked Victoria politely.

Victoria looked straight into Agnes' cold expression. "No, not this evening, I need to rest and I need to feed. Perhaps tomorrow." At this Agnes raised her palm and with a quick motion turned to leave the room with all the English Guardians in tow. Victoria noticed that several were careful to avoid eye contact with her. But she smiled pleasantly to those who looked back. When the door had shut Victoria turned her attention to Weatherton, "Was it something I said?" She handed him the envelope.

"As a matter of fact it was. "He took the envelope and placed on a small table that rested near his chair. "They don't care for the company of the telepaths." He smiled and reached for his drink. " They're afraid of them mostly. The Guardians are very private and don't like people prying around in their minds."

Victoria smiled calmly. "Oh," she replied softly.

"Can I offer you a drink?" he began lifting himself from his chair.

"Oh yes, that would be lovely," she replied and followed him as he crossed the room to a small mahogany bar.

As Abberline walked beside Sands, his senses took in the sights, sounds, and scents of the early evening. He looked at the faces of the Londoners heading home or to the local pub, or those who were out doing Christmas shopping. It was only after they'd made four our five turns down side streets that he realized Sands was not leading them toward the nightclub district.

"Sands," he said softly, "where are we going?" The scenery was getting a little dirty, a little less well traveled.

"I have some shopping to do," Sands replied, not answering the question.

Sands seemed to have the lay of the land. "Shopping?" Abberline inquired. "Now? Here?" He quickened his step and came up along side Sands.

The handsome vampire turned to face him, and Abberline was reminded, as he looked at the eyeliner around Sands' eyes, that he also wore make-up.

"I am naked without my guns," Sands said. He had a charming smile on his face, as if he'd just said it was a lovely night.

"Guns?" Abberline had been trained as an officer of the law to operate without guns. He never liked them, though he understood the need for them at times. "Do you really think you'll need guns?"

"We will need guns," Sands told him.

"And where are you planning to get weapons? The last time I checked Britain did not allow its citizens or police force to carry fire arms."

Sand briefly turned his head and smiled. "Don't worry, I know a guy."

Abberline shook his head, "I'll bet you do." Abberline began to grin, he felt a bit of admiration for Sands at that point. The guy was always true to himself.

They made a few more turns and ended up on a rather nice street, a circle of homes, their brightly painted doors facing the small wrought iron fences of almost virtual front yards. Street lights were coming on, reminding Abberline of how London looked over a hundred years ago.

"Number fourteen," Sands spoke. He headed up the steps to that home and used the front door bell. Abberline followed him up the steps and waited at his side.

"This looks like a rather nice place, are we dressed properly for the occasion?" Abberline quipped always socially conscience.

Sands waved him off. "If you only knew, Abberline."

They both stopped talking as the sound of approaching footsteps from the other side of the door captured their attention. It opened and they found themselves looking at a senior citizen who wore her steel gray hair pulled up in a bun, a high necked, navy colored floral print housecoat and an oversized black sweater that appeared hand-knit. "May I help you?" she asked sweetly.

"Volumes and volumes," Sands replied.

"Dickens or Thackery?"

"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." Sands stood smiling back.

"Come in, gentlemen." She opened the door.

Slightly baffled at the reference to one of his personal friends from a century ago, Abberline followed Sands inside the well-kept home. Its interior also reminded him of his Victorian past. He pondered the use of code words and wondered if this was one of Sands' CIA contacts.

The old woman shut and bolted the door and then turned to join them. "I think I have what you gentleman are looking for down in the library. If you would follow me." She smiled sweetly and reminded him of a friendly fish monger he once knew a lifetime ago.

The flat was well kept, with lace doilies and small porcelain figures adorning the shelves. Faded canvases of flower arrangements in oils lined the corridor. The scent of gingerbread filled the air as they got closer to the kitchen, but they turned away into the library. It looked like the library of a person who loved books. Hardwood shelves ran from floor to ceiling, and there were four large, hunter green leather armchairs strategically placed, flanked by reading lamps and at the far end a large walnut desk.

"So, how is Oscar?" Sands asked the woman.

"He's out working," she answered. "Berlin I think. I can't keep track anymore. They wanted to retire him from the field, but he doesn't want a desk job."

Abberline looked at Sands, who mouthed "Her son," back at him.

Abberline nodded quietly, but this still didn't look like the type of place to purchase fire arms, but perhaps that was why it was the perfect front.

"Gentlemen," she held out a buddle," is this what you're looking for?"

Sands took the bundle and carefully opened it to reveal a long black leather-covered box. He lifted the lid and looked at the weapon and silencer within. A smile curved the corners of his mouth. "This is perfect," he said in a warm voice. "You are a jewel. You must thank Oscar for me. Tell him his crazy friend was here."

She laughed. "They're all crazy, aren't they?"

"All right, his craziest friend," Sands smiled over at Abberline, who was looking altogether too sober.

The lady folded her arms across the flower print of her house coat. "How about your friend, does he like books?" she inquired.

"Oh yes," Sands replied but he 's not an avid reader."

The woman chuckled.

It went unsaid that Sands and the woman were talking in code again. Abberline assumed a solemn expression. "Is there is something for me?"

"Only if she has three of these," Sands said. "I like having a minimum of two good handguns. I don't suppose you have a small one I can hide somewhere?" he asked turning back to the woman.

"Of course, deary," she replied and walked over to a bookshelf and removed a stack of leather bound volumes to reveal another small bundle. "Perhaps this will do?"

Sands took the new bundle and flipped the cloth off. He held a small Baretta. "Sweet." He smiled, like a child opening presents on Christmas morning.

"So, how many of the handguns do you need?"

"Three, with holsters, and this little baby," Sands answered quickly. "We'll need the ammo, too. You can bill my account."

"The number?" she asked, going to a ledger book on the desk and flipping it open.

"004509S," he answered quickly. "I haven't had to avail myself of your services for quite a while."

She flipped back toward the front of the book. "Quite a while," she agreed, looking from the pages to his face.

"I'm older than I look." Sands graced her with his most charming smile.

The woman marked her ledger and looked at him from the corner of her eye, a glimmer of recognition seemed to appear. "I'll get the ammo," she stated. "Wait here."

The woman left the room and Abberline and Sands were alone. Abberline had crossed his arms against his chest. "So when was the last time you visited this establishment?"

Sands was still fondling his new toys. "Perhaps about the eighties."

"You have a photographic memory. I'm sure you can be more precise," Abberline prodded.

"February 4, 1985," Sands said quickly. "Happy?"

"She knows you can not look like you do and stand here twenty years later," Abberline frowned.

"She'll think I have a trick."

"That's quite a trick," Abberline commented. "Fountain of youth."

"Portrait in the attic."

Abberline laughed. Sands looked up surprised at the outburst. "It was a good pun, but really Sands you should be more careful."

"She'll think I'm my son or something. I'm not worried. I can make her think what I want anyway." Sands was still distracted by the guns.

"Then you had better attend to it," Abberline told him. "Or you may have this Oscar asking questions. I trust he's one of your spy friends."

"Spies have no friends," Sands said, his voice suddenly cold and flat. "I thought I explained that to you in 45."

Abberline waved him off. "All right, acquaintances then." Abberline broke off his conversation and shut his eyes, intently listening. Sands knew it had to be the master.

"Here is the ammo," the gray-haired woman re-entered the room. "Would you like some tea?"

"No thank you, dear," Sands smiled, setting the guns carefully on the desktop and then taking the ammo and putting it next to the weapons. "What about holsters. Would you have holsters?"

She began to answer, looking into his eyes, and her words trailed off. Sands put a friendly hand on his shoulder, but his mind was invading hers, telling her he was the son of an old and trusted customer, who had been a friend of Oscar's. She'd met him when he was just in his twenties, back in 1985. He told her she had no questions about him or his companion. Then he removed his hand, and picked up the conversation. "Yes, holsters for both of us would be great."

The woman exited the room and return with the holsters, handing them over she smiled. "You know, you've grown into the spitting image of your father."

Sands gave her a charming smile. "Yes, so I've heard." Abberline listened to the exchange and then touched Sands lightly on the shoulder. "We should be going."

"So soon?" she asked wistfully.

"I'm sorry," Sands told her. "Would you give us a moment, my dear?"

She nodded and left. Sands began to load his weapons, handing a holster to Abberline and donning two himself.

"You know I don't really like guns," Abberline said quietly as he held the holster in one hand as if it were quite distasteful.

"Yeah well, get over it. From what you've told me these kids are a bad brood," Sands snapped. "And what was that with the silent treatment a minute ago? The boss checking in?"

Abberline sighed. "Yes, as a matter of fact he was."

"What does he want now?" Sands asked. "Don't tell me he doesn't like guns."

Abberline began to fasten the holster around his frame. "He wants to know why we are not out looking for the children and he is a little curious about our attire."

"So he can even see us? Interesting," Sands said, tucking the small gun into his right boot. "Well, you see, the kids don't go directly to the clubs right at sunset, do they? They don't even open until nine or so. We have a few hours to just hunt around."

"Now you tell me!" Abberline complained. "But yes, he can see us through my eyes."

Sands' eyebrows arched in surprise and then he waved rather childishly toward Abberline.

"Oh knock it off." Abberline scolded.

"Time to go a-hunting," Sands said.

They both turned as they heard the old woman return. "There, you are ready then?" she asked. "I'll show you out."

They followed her back down the hall, past the delicious odors coming from the kitchen, and to the front door.

"Keep yourselves safe," she said, opening the door.

"You, too," Sands told her. He again looked deeply into her eyes. "I'm glad to have this chance to do business with you." He released her from his gaze and followed Abberline out into the quickly chilling evening air.